Victory’s Defeat! — Quotidian — 402

(Transcript of video originally posted on 26 Jun 2022)

In 1983, India won the World Cup of Cricket. The Prudential World Cup. An interesting movie came out recently, about that tournament. 83 was the name of the movie! It captures quite a few interesting anecdotes, little stories, lesser known tidbits about what happened, what really happened during those few months before the World Cup really happened. One thing though, was missed by those who produced the movie. I came to know Kapil Dev, even though nobody even thought he would win a single match there, .. he always carried around a bottle of champagne in his kitbag. From the first day, a bottle of champagne, in his bag. When he lifted the World Cup, yes, he had the opportunity to uncork the bubbly. But, imagine… From Day One! That is some confidence! Some grit! What do you think!?

Namaste! Victory’s Defeat! Did we win? Really? Or, have we lost? This is one of the chapters in this beautiful book written by two beautiful people.. Harsha Bhogle, and his wife, who have co-authored a book called The Winning Way.

It has done so well that they have come up with a second edition of this book. The Winning Way! In that book, there is a chapter dedicated to Winning, and all the accompanying emotions, accompanying benefits, and.. disadvantages of Winning. Let us take a quick tour through that chapter.

An unforgettable moment. If you are an Indian, that is. If you are Misbah-ul-Haq, this might be an eminently forgettable moment. For, he is the batsman who is trying to find out if he can vanish into the ground by digging a hole in the pitch! To hide from everybody around him! Six runs to get, four balls in hand. Misbah, an amazing batsman. A six had just been hit off the previous ball. 2007 T20 World Cup. And, he tries something, a “scoop shot”, behind his back. And Sreesanth catches that. And India wins the World Cup. So, Winning, really gives you an amazing.. a heady feeling. Top of the world! After we won that World Cup…. Till then, people were criticising the Indian Team. But, the moment they won the World Cup, that too, against the Pakistani team, they couldn’t do a thing wrong! Everything they SAID was RIGHT. Everything they DI was GOLDEN. They were literally FLOATING in the clouds. Winning really gives that heady feeling.

In fact, we sometimes think, Team Work — we should all get together — Team Spirit. And that will lead to Success. That is what we think. If you look at the analysis of Harsha Bhogle, you will learn that the reverse is sometimes true! Success BRINGS this thing called Team Spirit. You can notice this in companies and businesses too. A team that is not doing well, that is just barely getting by, they may have a product success. They may probably break through a particular sales deal. And, after that, .. almost as if they had been working together right from childhood, the team will rally, the team will work hand in hand, and achieve great success. It will make you wonder, that perhaps it is Success that leads to Team Spirit! But, what are the disadvantages, what are the “Hey, you be careful when you are Winning” kinda moments?

Harsha refers to something called “The Burden of Winning”. Oh my god, I have won, what do I do! Really? Can that really happen? Yes! He brings the example of this guy, Boris Becker. The youngest ever to win a Wimbledon Open Tennis Tournament. He had won it at the tender age of 17! And then he went on to win a few more. But, when they interviewed him, … Who are you, what have you achieved, what are your desires… when he retired, he is supposed to have said, “I wish I had won my first Grand Slam later in my life. Not at seventeen and a half. Because, I didn’t know how to behave like a Winner. Winning is not just about Talent. It is about Attitude. It is about Passion. They all need to work together and form a work ethic. Only then, you can be a consistent Winner. You can be a Winner who gets better over time. And, I feel I didn’t get the time to do this right. That is the feeling I have”. Said Boris Becker.

Another example. Closer home. Remember this guy? 2008 Olympics. He got India a gold medal in the Shooting category. Abhinav Bindra. When Abhinav Bindra was interviewed, he said: “Ouch.. I have now already won the Gold. And, I can’t get another medal higher in value than that one. All that remains would only be the pressure to get one more like that.” He wrote a poster and stuck it on his wall, it seems. It said, “You don’t need it, you just WANT it!” What a humbling message to oneself! You don’t need it, you just want it. Now go, look for it. The Burden of Winning. We can see this same thing happening in many companies too. They come very fast, into the domain. A feeling creeps in, that they can do nothing wrong. And then, quarter after quarter, they have to meet the expectations of the public. Of the journalists. Of the customers. Of the stakeholders and the shareholders. Of the board members. Of the employees. How do we recapture the amazing magic of the golden times past? Apple had the same problem. Everybody started asking, “What have you really done, after the iPhone?” But, hey, an iPhone comes along only once in a lifetime. But, will they understand that? No!

This guy, his name is Balotelli. Mario Balotelli. He is a football player. Guess what his claim to fame is? His celebration! The way he celebrates! … He DOESN’T celebrate! They asked him.. “Everybody celebrates really wildly. Why aren’t you doing the same”. And, he responded: “Does the mailman celebrate when he delivers the post? This is my job! I am doing my job! I have scored a goal. What next?” You didn’t get it yet? Okay, watch this video, and you will understand. How ridiculous it can get sometimes.. Somebody has done a comedic parody of the act.

So… very often, when you win, you celebrate. When you lose, you kinda try and do a post-mortem. But, hey, stop. Try to flip it around. Try and do a Post-Harvest. Launched something successfully? What little lessons can you take? What can you give the next generation to learn from this Win? You’ve won this. Okay. Celebrate. But, what can you learn? What lessons can you learn? Can you do that post-mortem even if you haven’t died?!

You’ve won the Cup. Did you sweat and struggle and work hard to get it? Or, did you receive it “just like that”? To do that, you need to do this. Analyse it. Did it land on to your hands “just like that”? Some players would exclaim, “I am surprised that I won!” Are you surprised you’ve won? Did you expect you would win this? Is it a chance happening? Did it perhaps rain on that day? Was there dew on the outfield? Did you win the game only because you lost the toss? What actually happened? Was a star player rested, or, perhaps injured, in the opponent team? Was this the reason you won? Analysing why you won, knowing the reason why you won, that is the stepping stone to become a true Winner. Not just in the game, not just in a match, but in the long run. In companies, in businesses, it is the same story too. Beyond just feeling happy and celebrating after your Win, you need to ask yourself the hard question, “Why did I Win this time?”

I wonder why they call it the mile STONE. For, that is the wretched stone that seems to make so many players trip and fall. I have “blurred out” his face, so, please don’t go searching who that cricket player could be. But, it so often happens, that somebody reaches an important milestone. Thousand runs in their career. Or, a century in that match. But, just four balls later, they will get out! Have you noticed? Why? When you reach that temporary half-way point, … you haven’t yet reached your goal. You’ve just crossed a milestone. But, the moment you reach that milestone, you kinda tend to lower your guard, half of your mind starts already planning the celebration, and, you lose focus. In business, how often have we seen this play out..! When somebody launches a product, they would declare that the product is going to be amazing, just by observing the launch reception. But, hey, are they saying that the product looks good? Or, are they really purchasing the product by paying money? Are they buying it, but keeping it unused in a cupboard somewhere? Or, are they really using it? Are they stopping with just using what they bought? Or, are they going around, eagerly evangelising that their friends and relatives buy that product too? Where is that ultimate goal? What goal will you be truly pleased for having achieved? What goal is worthy of celebration? That is the important question.

When you talk milestones, personal milestones, we can’t avoid talking about this Hundredth Hundred. I thought I would get an opportunity to talk at length, happily, about it. I even thought I could squeeze it in somewhere, as a nice footnote. But, guess what happened? When I started searching for this moment… In 2012. When Sachin Tendulkar, probably the greatest cricketer who has played the game, his hundredth hundred, One Dayers and Test Matches, he didn’t get it for one full year. He languished at ninety nine. Finally, somehow, the stars aligned, and he got the opportunity to play against a “good-for-nothing” team from Bangladesh. He hit his hundredth hundred that day. Do you think he is happy about that day?? Sorry. No. He is such a cricketing great, such a selfless player, that he is unhappy about that day. Why? For some inexplicable reason, he slowed down. Near the nineties. The nervous nineties. He put, temporarily, his personal milestone ahead of his team’s requirement. He hit somewhere around 117 runs. But, he consumed 147 balls. Almost half the Indian innings. What happened? Bangladesh, defeated Sachin, on a day Sachin hit a century. A century of centuries. So, when you talk milestones, be it in sports, or in business, if you are going to talk about competing against your own team members and doing something well… or competing team to team, and trying to get a better revenue at the cost of the other team losing it… what’s great about that?? This is NOT Success.

One final thing he talks about, Harsha Bhogle, in that book… He talks about the differing approaches India and Australia have, about fiddling with a winning combination. In India, if, somehow, they land upon a winning combination, they won’t dare touch it at all. A Rahul Dravid, a Sehwag, a Ganguly, a Sachin, are now in place… Don’t change them at all. Don’t change the order. It is okay if new players come and demand to be recognised. Ignore them! This combination can’t be touched. But, hey, these guys are getting old.. No, that’s okay. We can bother about it when the time comes. BCCI would probably go and proclaim in a press conference, “Sachin will retire WHEN he wants to”. Is that how the Australians handle it? The Australian approach is completely different. Because, they plan for the long term. They plan to go the distance. Players will come, players will go. But, what happens to the Australian Cricketing Spirit? It has to be Winning every time, for a long long time. So, even when there is a solid winning combination of four players, they would drop one of them, rest one of them, bring in a rookie who seems to show a lot of promise, give that person opportunities to fail, to learn the ropes, to rub shoulders with these giants, to make some mistakes, and then ensure continuity. That is why Australia is an all-time great cricketing team, and India is… yes, once upon a time great, very soon to be great, not too great now, and so on…

Anyway, … closing thought? We don’t have one. This is just the intermission moment. We are going to meet again tomorrow. We saw Victory’s Defeat today. Tomorrow, we will read about Defeat’s Victory! Thank you!

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Rajendran Dandapani

Rajendran Dandapani

Business Solutions Evangelist at Zoho Corp. President at The Zoho Schools Of Learning.